Hats off to Ecuador: An Expat Life in Helmets and Hoods

You’ve tipped your sombreros to my travels with Sara—both our move to Ecuador and our adventures in Vietnam–(even endured my recent absence from the blogosphere).  You know about my  passion for Haiti—have read about the poverty we saw there—Haitians with only tents to hang their hats.  You know the ultimate feather in my cap, however, has been passion for my “esposa.”  You know about my father’s ties to organized crime and my mad-hatter’s battle with bipolar disorder, one that lasted close to twenty years.  You know that together Sara and I have traveled the world with two white dogs—including a canine who literally wears conical hats.

My Maltese Lucy when we lived in Hanoi–

So it only seems fitting, since we’ve headed to Ecuador in the past year (the “Panama” hat capital of the world), that I share a few “hatted” snapshots.

You see, moving to South America has reignited my passion for head coverings, as the sun at our latitude (just south of equator) and altitude (high in the Andes) could sentence you  to skin cancer, if you’re not careful.

So, what follows are photos of my “Panama” hat shopping adventure, my current and, admittedly, excessive hat collection, as well as photos of my hats over the decades–my life in helmets and hoods.

“Panama” Hats–how do you begin to pick just one?

There’s the REALLY BIG version, but I fear it’s a bit much.  What do you think?

DSCN8667 (2)

Then, there are these.

PicMonkey Collage 5

And these.

PicMonkey Collage 4

Hats I have now–

And why I haven’t purchased any of the above!

Cat hats!

Cat hats!


Habitat for Humanity hats--

Habitat for Humanity hats–


Jimmy Carter hats--

Jimmy Carter hats–


Winter hats--

Winter hats–


Hats from Afgahnistan--

Hats from Afghanistan–


Brain-iac hats--

Brain-iac hats–


Crown for  the queen--

Crown for the queen–


The cap Sara hates--

The cap Sara hates–


The one we both love--

The one we both love–

Hats from the past–

–Does child-hood involve pulling a rabbit out of a hat or wearing one?


–You thought I was mad-hatted but what about wigged-out and red-headed in Wales?

–Why is a professor’s thinking cap always a beret?

–Hold onto your hats–Y2K is coming!  Do you remember?

–How did I go from a stocking-capped fear of homelessness to hard-hatted determination to build houses for others?

My university, writing students and I–doing a service-learning project with Habitat for Humanity

–My travel with Sara–has it been a conical chronicle?

Mekong building project

Phuket, Thailand

Ke-Sat Village, Vietnam

Sorting shells in Vietnam

–When we came home from Haiti, I tended my own garden.  Was I a happy home-owner?

Summer 2011

 –Then we moved to Ecuador.  Do I look like I’m in love?

Hats off to Ecuador!

Hats off to Ecuador!

Hat’s off to Ecuador and to each of you for enduring my millinery musings–this story of beanies and berets, this craziness in caps and crowns!

What accomplishments have feathered your cap?  Who’s your crown and glory?

I’m SO sorry to have been away for nearly a month.  We were without internet for two weeks, and then I left for nearly a two-week trip to the US.  I’ve missed you all!  Things should get back to normal now.  This post accidently went live last week when I was traveling and not able to respond to comments, so I took it down within minutes.  Sorry for any confusion that may have caused.

126 thoughts on “Hats off to Ecuador: An Expat Life in Helmets and Hoods

  1. One must have hats and bags. I wear a hat every day of the year; and, I’m quite put off when asked to remove it when entering the bank. I have also taken to carrying bags I have sewn from feed sacks to the flea markets to fill with fresh inventory.

    Sorry you didn’t get to see me on your recent visit, perhaps next time.

    Love all the hats.




    • Oh, Robert, sorry I didn’t get to see you either. Unfortunately, I didn’t leave Lexington, KY, except to spend time in the Chicago and Miami airports, which was NOT fun! Would love to see those bags you’ve sewn and would love to see your hat collection!


  2. Wow! You’ve certainly worn a lot of hats and you look nice in all of them, too. I think I have a picture of myself as a child in the exact same bunny ears that you had! I’m going to have to look through my old pictures for it. Would you believe that I don’t own a single hat? I’ve often tried to buy one, but can never find one that looks right with my big hair! Kudos to Lucy for wearing hats for you. I have a jester hat that I got for my cat and she won’t tolerate it long enough for me to snap a picture!
    Glad you’re back in the blogosphere! 🙂 xx


    • How funny. I can’t even imagine not owning a hat. Lack of imagination on my part, I suppose. I had to laugh that you have a hat for you cat. Really, that’s a hoot–and even funnier that she won’t wear it.

      Was so happy to hear that your health scare was only that–a false alarm.

      Thanks for stopping my, my friend.


  3. I like the black hat and the block colour one, and the big one at the top. I have taken to wearing a straw hat while I am gardening at Casa Debbio, I was becoming quite brown, but only in bits, not a good look.


    • Thank you, dear Juan! Glad you like that crown. It was made for Buddy Winston’s birthday party at Laura and Clays. Bet you are sad to be seeing your sweetie leave this evening! We will have you over!


  4. I love your travels and history with hats. I’m thinking that mom needs to get me one. Something cute. Something that speaks volumes of me and who I am. Something that snorts out glorious blogging pig. What do you think my sweet friend? XOXO – Bacon
    P.S. I missed you terribly during your absence! Hogs and snout kisses.


  5. A post that’s dear to my heart, having just gone through an obscene process to get a hat shipped from Australia……….

    Like you, I have always been a hat wearer. I love big, ostentatious ones like the first one, and I have several of those, but I return again and again to sensible berets and raffia sun hats and crisp wool toppers. Looks like you do the same.

    Glad you and Sara are back and recovered from your travels. I hope you saw my note that MTM and I are strongly considering attending the Rotary Convention next June in Sao Paulo. It would give us our best opportunity to get to you. I don’t know whether that timeframe would work for you two, and wanted to ask before we start thinking about a trip. Several things have to come together for the trip to work, but we have a year, right?


    • Oh, Andra, I have no idea where your note may have gone. Hope it didn’t get lost in all of my recent internet disasters. Yes, yes, please come!!!!! We will make it work no matter what, my friend. Sao Paulo will be awesome.

      You know, I really loved the hat you wore on the Trace. I had some serious hat envy over that one.


  6. I love hats, this might be my Texas / Southern upbringing. Right now I only have three and yes one is a cowboy hat. My two favorites for you? The big one, love that one it looks wonderful on you. Next up, third from left on the banner, love this one too.

    I hate to tell you, I am with Sara on the hate. Burn that one.

    So nice to see you back. I have missed you!!

    Hugs from Dallas



  7. I’m headed out the door but HAD to drop by and check out the hats. Hats off to both of you! (I wonder if there are certain personality types that especially love hats. Hmmm… I have one that I only wear when visiting Florida, more like a baseball cap.) Nice to have you back & blogging. Hope you had oodles of fun.


  8. The big Panama hat would be entirely appropriate at Ascot for the races. I can see why both you and Sara love the one you love. Some of the other’s you didn’t buy are awfully appealing as well. How do you manage to control yourself? Hat’s off to the both of you. Glad to have you back on the inter-webs.


    • Yes, lots of folks enjoyed that big hat-though I can’t imagine being able to wear it. It’s HUGE! I still haven’t bought a Panama hat, as I simply can NOT decide. Glad you enjoyed them, Lisa. Thanks for the welcome back, my friend!


  9. Due to fear of hat head I’ve never been much of a hat-wearer, but if I lived in a place that was Skin Cancer Central, i might be inclined to don one the size of that fedora that could almost double as a canopy. You do come across as a natural-born hat-wearer, Kathy. Welcome back!


    • I fear hat head as well, V. But you have enough hair that that shouldn’t be an issue for you. I must confess, I envy your curls. At any rate, thanks for the welcome and for reposting your comment! You rock, my friend!


  10. Welcome back. Tipping my hat to your collection of hats. As synchronicity would have it my teen fork down graduation money to buy a very nice Panama hat before he left for Hawaii and the two of them (the hat and teen) have formed a very special bond. I think they will go far together.


    • How wonderful to hear from you today, Katybeth. So happy to hear that Cole bought a Panama hat. Hope he has an awesome time in Hawaii. That sounds like an exciting trip! Great to hear from you today. Thanks for stopping by and welcoming me back!


  11. Why do I feel a “shawl” or “shoes” or “scarf” post coming on? Wait! Did we do scarves? Or were some of those bags “scarf-like”? LOL…you too funny! Also, the hat Sara hates? It really MUST go. Or at least don’t be seen in public in that thing! LOL…The rest are marvelous and you look great in all of them!


    • OMG–you don’t like that hat either? Damn. You’re the second person this morning to agree with Sara. Guess I’m gonna have to reconsider that one. Thanks for weighing in. Glad you like the others, though. WONDERFUL to hear from you today!!!


    • Thank you so much, LG! I’m happy you can appreciate my hats, even if you don’t wear them often yourself. That means a lot from a none-hat-wearer. Hope you are doing well, my friend. I’m trying to get back into the swing of thins after having no internet for two weeks and then traveling for another two.


  12. You look stunning in ALL your hats. I have black glasses too but can’t wear a hat I can get caught dead in. I used to wear lots of hats up until the sixties: church hats (wore contacts back then).
    Glad you’re enjoying Ecuador. That little furry fellow with the cone hat is adorable.


  13. The Afghanistan hats cracked me up!!!!! The boys truly enjoyed them. So glad to see that you are back with us, dear Sista! I’ve missed your virtual self.


    • You and me both, dear Sista! It’s been borderline hell. Imagine no internet for TWO weeks and then a trip to visit your family. YIKES! I’m soooooooooooooo happy to hear from you! Tell the boys I said, hi!!!! Hugs and love to you, sweetie!!!


    • Thanks so much, Mark. I’m glad to be back. My two weeks without internet were borderline hell. It was sad to realize just how dependent I’d become on it. Great to hear from you, my friend. Hats off to you and Tara, too.


  14. I loved the photographs in your MAD HATTER MILLINERY MUSINGS! My favorite hat? The SASSY ORANGE one in the far-left side of the header!

    It’s good to have you back in the techno-stratosphere 🙂


    • So glad you enjoyed the hats, Laurie! I like the orange one, too. And I can’t tell you how good it is to be back! It’s crazy to discover just how much I depend on the internet. Great to hear from you, my friend.


  15. One can never have too many hats, that’s what I always say! It’s so hard to pick a favorite from the above. I do love the Panama hat. It’s a classic. (As is that Y2K hat. 🙂 )

    Glad to have you back to the blogosphere. Hope your trip to the US went well!


    • Thanks, Jackie. The trip to the US was tolerable. I’m just glad to be back and back to the blogosphere, as well. It was too long. And, gosh, who would have guessed I was SO dependent on the internet? I mean, really, Jackie, it was bad. Great to hear from you this evening, my friend.


  16. I love the hats but mostly the head under the hat. 🙂 And I gotta say….I have no fashion sense but I have to agree with Sara about that one hat…… Other than that, I loved them all and I think you NEED to get some of those hats you have not yet purchased. 🙂


    • Darn. You don’t like that one either? I don’t get it. And a number of other folks agree with you. I love it. I wonder what I’m missing? Maybe I can replace it with a new purchase? Hey, by the way, do you all want to come visit? Or does David?


      • 🙂 You have no idea how much we want to. David is ready to pack. But….there’s more going on. I’ll have to send you an email. I thought that possibility was totally dashed. There’s hope yet for the future. Fingers crossed.

        I hope you buy one of those Panama hats. You look SMASHING in that!


      • Yes, email me, Colleen. I know a bit about what’s going on, but I didn’t know if that would allow/make you want to come sooner or later. The problem with the hats is being able to select just one! You see, I want 17 of them! LOL


      • Because they are expensive by Ecuador standards and I find it hard to justify buying too many when I already have SO many hats. Write when you have the chance. Sounds like you are on the road.


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  18. I’ve always believed that a person has to possess a certain amount of confidence to authoritatively wear a hat, especially if the hat happens to be loud or colorful and rather quite large. Of course, some hats are just meant to serve a utilitarian purpose, but why not blend your artistic spirit with something as simple as a head covering? I particularly loved the very wide-brimmed version on you, and some of the more colorful selections, although even the quite and practical ones were fun, too.

    I have never really been a hat person. In fact, I can’t specifically recall any instance of wearing a hat, other than perhaps maybe a baseball-style version when I did some volunteer work with Habitat for Humanity when I lived in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for about a year. My guess is that maybe it has something to do with comfort, in that I’ve never like clothes that are binding, and perhaps I feel a bit claustrophobic when wearing a hat. But I love the originality and chutzpah that you exude when wearing your various versions of Panamas and caps and conical coverings. Some people just naturally seem to be able to wear hats well, and you are one of those people. Your many hats are almost like jewelry, and help you shine!


    • I totally loved your line about the “caps and conical coverings.” Well said, my friend. I totally get it that some folks don’t wear hats–especially in North America. Here, it seems I hardly have a choice because of the sun’s intensity. But it’s weird, cause here in the Andes it’s not hot.

      At any rate, interesting that you volunteered for Habitat. I have A LOT of their hats. Sara worked for Habitat International for 20 years.

      Thanks so much for appreciating my hats. Wonderful to hear from you, as always! Hope you are well. I kept thinking about you after I read your last post.


  19. Hello from Sri Lanka my friend. Enjoying the warm weather, my beautiful mum’s food, the beaches but not the heat. So happy to be able to check in and say hello!
    I think all the hats you have not yet purchased are ones you need to have. You look so lovely in them. The Panamas are gorgeous on you. I too love hats but don’t always look good in them… So I pick and choose.
    Happy to have you back – your photos always make me smile. I have missed writing to you.


    • Oh, it’s wonderful to hear from you, all the way in Sri Lanka. And I’m thrilled you are enjoying your holiday and your mom’s wonderful food. Sara really loves Sri Lanka. I’ve never been–only to India.

      And I’m SO happy you like my MANY hats. I know what you mean about the hats I only tried on in the store. They are pretty cool, aren’t they? But they are not cheap–especially by Ecuadorian standards–nothing much under $30. I know that’s not a lot for the US, but it is for here.

      Enjoy your summer, my friend. I’m delighted to hear from you!


  20. Kathy, I think I have one fedora, a couple of winter hats, and a raincoat with a hood. That’s about it. You carry off your hats rather well. Love them all, even the one Sara doesn’t like. Reminds me in a way of the groovy sixties!


    • I suspect there would be less need for hats where you live–not cold, little rain. But thank God someone likes the hat Sara hates. A number of readers what agreed with her, and it’s the one I love most—maybe for just the reason you mention. Great to hear from you, my friend. Hope you have an awesome weekend!


    • Oh, you are a sweetie! Thank you. I think the hats make me look better–as least they cover gray hair. LOL Wonderful to hear from you today. Hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thanks so much for stopping by!


  21. It’s so good to have you back!! Yay!

    I’m a hat person, too 😀 Much to the Handsome Sidekick’s chagrin! I don’t own as many as I used to, but I think I will need to get another, come summer. The climate here is milder than where we lived before, but the sun is harsher. Perfect excuse for more hats, I say!


    • You know, I have NO idea where you live. Makes me think you live in Denver or some place at a higher elevation–if the sun is stronger but temps are milder. Yes, summer is a good excuse to purchase another hat, my friend. Have a lovely weekend and thanks so much for visiting. I always LOVE to hear from you!


  22. Hurrah you are back in town!! Hats off for this fab post. You are stunning! I love the expression of you sorting through the sea shells. Wow those Afghanistan hats are sensational. Your posts always bring me something new to engage with and enjoy. You have been missed Kathy!

    It’s great to hear your travels were fantastic but also that you are more than thrilled to be back in Cuenca. No place like home! You build houses for people in need, what a gal! It must be great to think there is something of permanent value, giving joy to others that you created. That’s a huge legacy.

    Three hearty cheers to you, and Sara too for I know she has done amazing humanitarian work. You both inspire! A gilded gold bejewelled crown for you both x x

    So glad you are back!

    Hugs and happy smiles

    x Lita x


    • Oh, Lita, your comments always make me so happy. Hope you know what a dear you are.

      Yes, it’s good be home. And I’m thrilled you enjoyed the hat photos. It’s excessive to have so much of anything, but at least they aren’t expensive items like electronics. Now the shells. Funny you should mention that. I love organic things WAY more than material ones. Gosh, I should do a post about that.

      Hope you are having a lovely weekend, my friend. Hugs and love to you!!!


    • Hooray, you like the hat!!!!!!! You have made my day, my friend. I’m trying to keep track of how many people like and don’t like that one. So far, Sara is winning. Hope Cork is enjoying his renew ability to vacuum! Thanks so much for stopping by!


    • Thanks so much for visiting! And I’m delighted you enjoyed the hats. I’ve got to admit, my favorite is Lucy in the conical hat, as well. She’s pretty cute, even if I do say so myself. Hope you will stop by again soon!


    • Can’t tell you how much I appreciate your stopping by, Rebekah. I think I wear hats partly because I DON”T like my hair. Sounds like you have beautiful, long locks. I look forward to reading your post, as soon as I’m finished responding to comments. Thanks for leaving the link and please visit again soon.


    • Thank you, Darla! Gonna run tell Sara that you like the hat she hates. Thank God there are a few folks on my side. So far Sara’s contingent is winning. Hope you are having a lovely weekend, my friend.


  23. I LOVE hats! Your collection is mahvelous! I’ve collected them for years too. I have crazy hats for costumes as well. I’ve been wearing a straw fedora. My favorite for the summer!
    No need to apologize. A lot of bloggers have been enjoying the long warm days. After such a long cold winter, who can blame anyone!!!
    Thanks for bringing this to the party! I hope you have fun mingling with my friends!


  24. So, why didn’t you add to your collection with a Panama hat? You look marvelous in hats! Hats off to you my friend! By the way, my son’s first word was ‘hat’. There is always more room for one more hat in his house. I bought him a Panama hat when we were in Cuenca. Thanks for modeling your collection. I love them all!


    • Glad to hear you bought your son a Panama hat. They are really cool. Sara purchased one recently for her father. I haven’t bought one yet, just because I couldn’t justify spending the money. It’s not like I have a huge lack of hats. LOL Hope you are doing well, my friend. Hugs to you!


  25. I’m visiting from Susie’s party. Love all the hats but it must be hard to pick and choose which ones to pack while living a suitcase-based life. I think you must get a Panama — they look wonderfully chic and stylish. Being a New Englander, I liked the white Panama with the blue-striped band (understated, restrained, per our traditions), but you’ll probably get lots of votes for something big and colorful!


  26. My sister and I both LOVE hats. Of course the ones that look good on her are NOT the ones that compliment me. She can wear those ginormous easter bonnet style hats and look abfab. Not me. I do better with the ball caps and the cabbie hat types. Adored your fun, fashionable pics. So glad you stopped by Susie’s place.


  27. I love hats, but for some reason I can only wear one for a short period of time before feeling self-conscious. I should probably look into that.

    I’m with Darla and anyone else who likes the hat that Sara doesn’t. I also like the earrings that you’re wearing with it. Have you done an earring post? I’ll check. . . .

    Thanks, as always, for the colorful spirit of adventure your posts bring into my day.


  28. It’s good to see you back in the blogosphere, Kathy! I loved the red hat you wore in Wales. I don’t wear hats for fashion, but have a few baseball caps and a straw hat to keep my face in shaded in summer. And one knitted winter hat. But I enjoyed seeing your delightful hat collection!


  29. Nice to see you toss your hat back into the blogging arena!
    The glaring sun and semi tropics here means hats – all sorts, but end up wearing an old old canvas sailing hat with broad brim…it has a tear and has been stitched and restitched..the fabric is about done, I’m afraid. Not made any more. Breaking in a new hat takes a while – and that’s after you find one that will work.
    Stay in the shade – if not hat some up


  30. Hey how did I miss this? So many hat and caps maybe you should open a shop? LOL or make hats! Some days it is just getting up and accomplishing one small step forward. Other days it is a day full of activities. But even those sometimes don’t feel so fulfilling and then again those moments are awesome.
    Even in the midst of Mom’s passing, and exhibition was forming, the group art show reception is this Friday evening. I almost never got it together, yet knowing the my joy is expressed through my art as well as sharing that photography. The feather in my cap is to keep producing, while trying to move forward on my path.

    I am Love, Jeff

    Missed you!


  31. I’m amazed at the number of hats you own! I might own one or two of the winter variety, but other than that, I have none! I’m not one to wear hats for fashion and only wear them out of necessity if absolutely necessary. I think my aversion to hats stems from my 1980s big hair days. Hats were out of the question… they’d mess up my hair!


    • Thank you. That’s sweet to say. I don’t know that anyone has ever said that about my facial structure before. That’s so lovely to hear. Glad you enjoyed the hats. Wonderful to hear from you today.


  32. What an amazing site. So many hats. I wouldn’t know which to choose if I had the option to choose one.They are all lovely hats. I admire your love for these hats. As someone has said they all fit you.Continue to let us see hats from different parts of the world.


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